Buckle up. Mt. Fuji hikes can be pretty complex with a good variety of options for the trails/routes AND season. There are plenty of resources, but I’m gonna share the main ones and the routes I’ve done. For 2020 they have closed the routes due to covid19, but closed routes does NOT mean hiking is not allowed. It simply means that the facilities will not be there – which includes mountain huts, toilets, vending machines and most importantly, buses. But if you have a car, willing to take a cab or walk to the trailhead, then you can definitely go up.
Budget: JPY6,400 to JPY13,900 (~USD60 to 138)
- JPY8,500. Mountain hut reservation (optional)
- JPY5,400. Roundtrip bus from Shinjuku Station to Mt. Fuji’s 5th station.
- JPY1,000. “Donation” at the entrance. This seems to be required from 2019.
Hike Date / Difficulty
- Summer Hike : July 31-August 1, 2017 (Yoshida Trail), July 2018 (Fujinomiya Trail)
- Difficulty is 4 out of 5, mainly because it’s a long hike. It’s NOT technical at all.
- Winter Hike: May 4-5, 2019 (Fujinomiya side)
- Difficulty is a full 5 out of 5. Snow plus that slope? Axes and crampons are needed, and you definitely need to know how to self arrest before hiking. As the logistics are different for winter and summer hikes, I'm writing a separate post for winter hikes.
- Route below (Yoshida Trail) is around 16.1km, with an elevation change of ▲1819m/ ▽1814m
When to Go
- Summer Hike: Around July to September, check for the bus schedule.
- Winter Hike: October to November, then latter March (a bit iffy still) to early May (late May and you might have slushy snow). No buses, just private transportation.
- Trails. Mt. Fuji is divided into ten “stations” (base at station 1, summit at station 10). There are four main trails, with Yoshida as the beginner level and Gotemba (I think) as the most difficult one. For all the trails, you can drive up to the fifth station, which is at 2,000 meters.
- Yoshida. It’s on the east side, and the main one that people take. Expect slow LINES. Yes, lines while hiking. The plus point is that no matter what, you’ll see the sunrise.
- Fujinomiya. It is the counterpart of Yoshida I believe, but on the west side. It has an overall more tolerable trail, and a lot shorter than Yoshida. I would actually prefer Fujinomiya except that if you want to see the sunrise, then there is higher pressure to reach the summit otherwise you’ll miss it. This is the trail I used for winter hike too.
- Others – I haven’t really tried them. I chose Yoshida for accessibility, and my guide chose Fujinomiya for the winter hike because it’s shorter and therefore safer, I think. In hindsight, for summer hikes, I would choose Yoshida for going up, and Fujinomiya going down.
- Mountain Huts vs Night Hike vs Day Hike.
- Mountain hut. Overnight is good to help with altitude sickness. Unfortunately, no camping is allowed up Mt. Fuji so no other choice but the paid huts (on winter though, nobody is there so you can camp, usually near the huts because that’s the only flat spot). Huts can be reserved via phone call or online. I personally used the online reservation and paid JPY1,000 reservation fee. On top of that, I had to pay JPY8,500 for the actual stay, with dinner and breakfast. I stayed at Taishikan (3,100meters), but in hindsight I think it’ll be better to stay at Tomoe. Mountain huts during the hiking season sell out fast, so book at least a month in advance.
- Night hike. If you’re trying to save on the mountain huts AND see the sunrise, then a night hike option is a good one. Start at around 5pm and you’ll be at the summit early enough to have a decent nap before the sunrise (but be sure you have enough warm stuff. Some people underestimate how cold it can get at that elevation – please, prepare winter gear)
- Day hike. This is an option for day hikes who do not need to see the sunrise – just get there really early and be back by nightfall.
- Access. During the hiking season, there's a direct bus going from Shinjuku Bus Terminal to the 5th Station of Yoshida Trail.
- Bus tickets can be reserved online, JPY5,400 roundtrip. One option is to reserve the way to go to 5th station, and just buy the tickets at the 5th station going back. That way, you don’t have the time crunch when going down.
- Altitude sickness. Make sure to take it slow and take rests. On my first hike up there, the moment we went above 3,100 meters, we would try to do a 5 minute rest every 20 minutes even if we are not tired. Once one of us gets dizzy, we take a 30 minute break.
- Restroom breaks. There is a JPY100 fee per use to be placed in a box, so bring plenty of coins.
- Drinks get hit JPY400/500 per 500ml bottle once you leave the 5th station.
- No special gear needed, but make sure you are prepared for freezing temperature (0c) at the summit.
Itinerary (2017 summer hike, stayed at mountain hut)
- 07:45 Left Shinjuku Bus Terminal.
- 10:30 Arrived at Mt. Fuji’s 5th station
- 11:00 Started hike.
- 14:40 Reached 8th station, rested in our accommodations
- 16:00 Dinner was served. Breakfast was also given out – bread, a bottle of water, plus a microwaved rice ish thing that did NOT taste good.
- 18:00 Tried to sleep. Not much success.
- 01:15 Woke up, got ready for the hike, started eating our breakfast
- 01:30 Started ascent
- 04:40 Reached the top of Mt. Fuji! From here on, you have the choice of going around the crater to reach the summit, and it’ll take around 50 minutes one way. My group decided not to. On my second hike, I did do the walk around the crater and I would recommend doing it at least once.
- 05:50 Started descent
- 09:30 Reached 5th station.
- 10:30 Ate brunch, changed clothes, shopping, etc.
|This is where the bus dropped us off. We went up to the seats nearby and prepared for the hike. |
|The start of the hike had so many tourists coming in. Most of them go to the 6th/7th station, then go back for the day. |
|There's practically no tree cover beyond the initial hour of the hike. |
|I saw this a lot - I assume it's for soil erosion prevention?|
|Here's a peek - Mt. Fuji is ridiculously crowded during the hiking season. |
|You can also get a cane or small blocks of wood that you can have stamped at every station (JPY300-500 per stamp)|
|Our accommodations for the night. They provided a sleeping bag, and that's it. |
|The torii to the summit! It is super crowded, and movement slows to a trickle. |
|View down. |
|Putting the 10th station mark at the wooden stick. |
|View of the crater. |
|Summit marker! Take note - there is a line for those who wish to take a photo with the marker, and even with the line, the summit area is so crowded you'll never get a moment alone with the marker. |
|Time to go back. The line for the restroom too is pretty long. Plus the fee of JPY200(or JPY300?) per use. |
|Here's the way down. |
|The knee-breaking, unending descent down Yoshida Trail. Definitely take the Fujinomiya one if you can. |
|And we're done! This is the marker at the start of the hike, and now we've gone full circle. |
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